Dating & Depravity

BA2274-001The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5).

They have dealt corruptly with Him, they are no longer His children because of their blemish; they are a crooked and twisted generation” (Deut 32:5).

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5).

We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment” (Isaiah 64:6).

Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots?  Then also you can do good who are accustomed to do evil” (Jeremiah 13:23).

For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil . . .” (Mark 7:21).

None is righteous, no, not one . . . no one does good, not even one” (Romans 3:10-12).

The doctrine of Total Depravity is one of the clearest in the Bible.  It is the clear teaching of God concerning mankind’s helpless, pitiful spiritual condition from cover to cover in the Bible.  Being totally depraved does not mean every person is as sinful as he or she could be (that would be hell, indeed).  Rather, total depravity simply teaches that we are all born sinners, we have a sin nature bent towards evil and rebellion against God from birth.  Once we are old enough to choose between God’s Law and sin (which happens much earlier than most of us like to admit), we all add insult to injury and heap up filth and wickedness before Holy God.  Our condition spiritually is so dire that God says we are “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph 2:1).  Our depravity necessitates a gracious move of God’s Spirit in our lives, giving us new life (birth) in Christ Jesus in order for us to repent of sin and believe in Jesus and be saved (John 3:1-8; John 6:65; Eph 2:1-10; 2 Tim 2:25; Titus 3:5; 1 John 5:1).  We must be born again, “not of blood, nor of the will of flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God (John 1:13).  Oh friends, “salvation is of the Lord” (Jonah 2:9).

But what does Total Depravity have to do with dating, especially if Johnny is a Christian?  Well, glad you asked.  Most Christian parents demonstrate by their actions that they really do not grasp the power and presence of indwelling sin, even among the saved (1 John 1:8-10).  Many parents assume since their teen is saved, and they have the Holy Spirit indwelling them, that they can just trust little Susie to “do the right thing.”  Oh, if it were that easy!

King David lusted after Bathsheba, acted on it, and then enjoyed his sexual sin with her so much he had her husband killed.  So, if your teen is stronger in the Lord than David, the “man after God’s own heart,” then by all means continue to let him go into darkened movie theaters with girls, totally unsupervised by yourself or any other adult.

The same Apostle who wrote so much about the regenerating power of God’s Spirit, making us alive in Christ and dead to sin, also wrote this about himself:

I do not understand my own actions.  For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate . . . For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is in my flesh.  For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.  For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing . . . wretched man that I am!  Who will deliver me from this body of death?  Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!  So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind [the regenerated will], but with my flesh [indwelling sin] I serve the law of sin (Rom 7).

So, if your teen is walking closer with Christ than the Apostle Paul did, then by all means let that young man and young woman be alone upstairs in the bedroom while you are downstairs in the kitchen.  (How many stories do we parents have tucked away in our devilish minds about being alone with the opposite sex in a house that parents were in?)

Friends, have we so quickly forgotten Paul’s admonition to the saved believers at Ephesus?  “Give no opportunity to the devil” (4:27).  As parents, we are responsible for doing all we can to ensure our children are not purposely in places where Satan can gain an easy foothold into their lives.

“Satan’s foothold” is an apt description for dating in America. 

We have not equipped our children well in the doctrine of sanctification, so they do not know how to wage this war against sin and towards the pursuit of holiness (Gal :16-26).  They have no idea how to put off the old man and put on Christ (Eph 4; Col 3).  That’s not part of our Sunday School curricula.

Almost non-existent is the young man who given an opportunity to be alone with a girl he is so physically attracted to that his reasoning faculties are shut down who will not try to touch somewhere, kiss like he’s a soap star, caress like the girl is all his, and voila the devil’s foothold becomes a stranglehold!

As for me and my house, we will shun dating the culture’s way.  We care not what others think, even those within the church.  As a Dad, God clearly expects me to protect my daughter’s purity (Deut 22:13-21).  The Lord of hosts did not ask the American culture or church what they thought about this arrangement.  By His grace, I intend to fulfill this God-given role well and faithfully.

We’re out of time for now.  Stay tuned, much more to come.

Next Post: The Kiss of Death

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gamble talks - Just killing some in between class time on Digg and I found your article . Not normally what I prefer to read about, but it was absolutely worth my time. Thanks.

Practicing for Divorce

BA2274-001In his book Family-Driven Faith, Voddie Baucham makes an assertion that the way Americans have done dating for many generations now is nothing more than practice for divorce.

Challenging, no? The argument found fertile soil in my heart, as my fatherly instincts have been crying out and seeking God in the matter of a “better way” for my own daughters. I decided to begin deeper contemplation and Bible study on this issue, and the Lord is changing my whole outlook on human relationships, especially a relationship that is meant to move towards marriage.

Growing up, I was told that the purpose of dating was to find a wife. Made sense then. Makes sense now. The only problem was the method of finding said spouse was not discussed much. It was assumed I would enter the dating scene like all my peers at school. This involved shopping around (which typically leads to fooling around), playing the field until someone began to meet my often overly self-centered desires, dating until one or both of us got tired/ bored of one another or found someone we liked better, then dropping the whole thing, vowing to stay friends.

This method left several young ladies in my wake. Some hurt. Some jilted. Some elated to be rid of me!

To “date” in my day meant going to the movies, or to the Pizza Hut. It meant letting everyone know at school that a certain girl was “mine,” until of course we decided some months or weeks later to call the whole thing off, then we were both officially “back on the market.” It meant holding hands in the school hallways, and yes sometimes sneaking kisses (a subject for the upcoming post) between classes. And of course we cool guys always sat with our girlfriends at lunch, but more honestly, we sat with entire groups of girls that we all dated on a rotating basis.

Dating also had a much darker side. It sometimes meant going to parties together, where the majority of teens were drinking and doing other things they had no business doing. God graciously spared me from any desire to become a partier-drinker, but this by no means implies I kept my dating habits spotless or sinless.

Hindsight is 20/20. Looking back, the whole dating scene for me from middle school through high school was almost entirely unsupervised by adults. It was, when it comes right down to it, an unhealthy, blind groping, trying to figure out how in the world to manage to find that “special one.” The criteria for a good wife given in the Bible was somewhat known to me. I cannot claim ignorance there and I was a Christian teen. But, the criteria of the crowd around me suited my sin nature more readily, you see. Good looks. Popularity. Common extra-curricular activities. Good kisser. Looked good on my arm at school dances. Made other guys envious.

Somehow commitments to purity never made our peer pressured list. Nor did a commitment to being a Christ-exalting, submissive wife who wanted nothing more than to be a godly wife and mother, and who treasured the provision of protective male headship given to her by God. A gentle and quiet spirit just did not make the cut.

Yeah. Come to think of it, we were all just participating in divorce warm-ups, preparing to do our part to perpetuate the cycle of carved up, hurting, single-parent or multi-step-parent families. The whole thing was like a more innocent version of TV’s “The Bachelor.”

Chaos aptly described the dating scene back then. It still describes it today, too. Just spend some time with a teen, pick their brain in these matters, listen to their confused, jilted hearts. And why are Christian parents in the church continuing to allow or directly putting their children into this cycle of insanity? Dating as it has been done for generations now is absolutely biblically unjustifiable. No parent can quote Chapter and Verse to justify this madness.

Our children are crying out for a better way. But most of us 30-something parents did not live the better way ourselves. We must first confess our own sins, seek cleansing through Jesus’ blood, then determine by God’s grace to search out and obey the more biblical way for our children. We cannot teach and train what we do not know. We must seek God’s grace to break the cycle, for His glory and the good of our children and grandchildren.

Accepting the culture’s view and expectations for dating has gone on long enough. In the words of the hymn writer, “Rise up, O church of God, be done with lesser things.”

“God is not the author of confusion, but of peace” (1 Cor 14:33).

Next Post: Dating and the Doctrine of Depravity

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Tim - Thanks brother. Appreciate the truth.

tlbcassocpastor - Glad you appreciate the candor. I want to be open and honest without making anyone think I have anything but respect for my parents. I just think the present generation of young parents in the church needs grace to break some of the cycles where parents of yesterday perhaps bought into the cultural ideals too heavily. And, I hope my comments about my warped dating criteria do not in any way reflect upon my wife, who is a precious jewel to me. God has taught us both so much since our initial “dating experience.” And the Lord blessed with with a tremendous woman of godliness and grace in spite of me. Praise His Name!

Eva Pennington Griffin - So helpful in raising girls, especially since I wasn’t taught this

To Date or Not to Date?

BA2274-001Today’s Christian parents and teens are totally bombarded with the “dating scene.”  As a pastor, it is obvious to me that many parents are groping about wildly like a blind monkey in a room full of bananas trying to gain some measure of control over their teens’ dating habits or views of dating.  Other Christian parents appear just to have thrown up their hands and taken the “Johnny is an adult now and has to learn to make it on his own and pay for his own decisions” approach.  Still others seem genuinely perplexed and confused on where to draw lines and how to find balance between loving protection and assisting teens in becoming responsible adults.

The issues surrounding “dating” or “seeing someone” as most Americans call it are myriad and complex.  These blog posts will be aimed at parents and teens, for both have to recover a much more biblical vision of this Medusa.  And a much more biblical vision does exist, my friends.

First, some confessions.  Most Christian parents do almost nothing differently than non-Christian parents when it comes to how they permit teens to relate to one another.  And, most Christian teens date or “see” others almost exactly like all their peers are doing.  The utter lack of distinction in our attitudes and actions when it comes to dating is obvious to the most casual observers.  Saddest of all, it does not seem to be bothering most Christian parents or teens at all.

Do we really want to keep taking the “it’ll all come out in the wash” approach to something this critical?  We must be intentional.  We are called to be distinct, “cities on a hill” if you will (Matt 5:14).

As Christians, we must ask of every circumstance, every situation, every issue, “What has God said?”  This really is the key that we allowed the Dragon of American Culture to eat, swallow, and excrete into the ocean of moral complacency.  Far too many Christians today are not text-driven.  That is, they are biblically ignorant and often blissfully so.

But our Savior God is a God who has spoken!  He is the self-revealing God who delights in showing mercy to lowly sinners who would not otherwise have a clue as to who He is and how to be made right in His eyes and how to live in His good pleasure.  The miracle of Divine revelation is captured poignantly in Deuteronomy 4-5.  Go read it.

For our purposes here, I am going to assume you Christ-followers reading this really do care what God has said, about every matter, including dating.  So, let’s begin a journey of seeking the heart and mind of God, as found only in the Bible, in the matter of dating.

Ready, set, go!  Oh, wait a minute, let me get my Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance and find the key word “dating.”  Hmmm.  This cannot be . . . Mr. Strong must have made a typo.  The word is not in the concordance.  Maybe if I look for “courting” or “courtship.”  Nope.  How ’bout “romance.”  Nix.  Wow – maybe this series of blog posts will be shorter than I thought.

Friends, this is where we must begin our journey – with an honest admission that one will look in vain for any direct guidance in Scripture on dating.  Let me qualify that assertion.  One will not find any recommendations or commands from God concerning how best to go about the process of “dating” as we have come to define it in America.

The Bible is all but silent on anything remotely resembling what we call dating in our culture.  Now I know some of you are thinking of the “unequally yoked” passage (it’s 2 Cor 6:14, by the way), and we shall come to it in due time.  But go read it in context and you will easily see that Paul did not have American dating in mind when he wrote those God-breathed words to the Church at Corinth.

Here’s where we must begin this journey – even the Bible’s silence speaks, if we are willing to listen.  We American Christians are going to have to significantly alter our way of thinking about “dating” if we want to gain God’s perspective.

Next post: Dating = Practicing for Divorce.

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The Women of Farmville

ABCs “Good Morning America” ran a story this morning about the epidemic known as Farmville.  For those of you as blissfully ignorant as I, Farmville is an on-line game where players manage farms, crops, animals, etc. and earn virtual coins for harvesting crops, and so on. 

Apparently one can now pay REAL MONEY to earn virtual coins, too.  And experts estimate about 15% of players, or 12 million people, do pay their hard-earned cash to somehow “get ahead” of the fierce competition in the virtual famer’s market.  And of course, this is making the gurus behind Farmville filthy rich ($450 million this year).

In past blog posts, I have come down particularly hard on young men’s obsession with gaming.  While I do not back off of those comments, it appears I must now address 40-year old women, as well.  According to the GMA Reporters, the majority of Farmville players are women in their 40s.  And as with all video or computer-type games, many women are becoming addicted and spending hours upon hours clicking and staring, staring and clicking their lives away. 

Consider this comment from a former Farmville addictee, Marianne Thomas:

“I played in the morning, in the evenings, all during the day. I thought about my crops all the time. I gained probably about 10 pounds. I quit going to the gym, quit doing my chores, ignored my house,” she said.

Now this is serious.  Do we really wonder why our nation’s economy is tanked?  Young men sit in their cubicles on company time playing games, then go home and play more games, often involving their children in the GAMING IDOLATRY and justifying it as “quality time.”  And now we have 40-something women (READ, wives and mothers) ignoring their homes because their fake crops need some fake fertilizer so they can earn some fake money. 

Our nation’s people are losing their minds!  And many Christian women also engage in the Facebook / Farmville phenomenon in close-to-idolatrous proportions.  Christian wives and mothers, when is the last time you actually timed or tracked on paper how many hours you spend clicking and texting and clicking some more?  

Ignoring your homes, Christian women, is tantamount to neglecting your primary God-given duty (Prov 31:27-28; Titus 2:5). 

Does it strike anyone as odd that Christian women are now spending their money, time and talents managing a virtual farm in order to earn virtual money, all the while neglecting their husbands and children?  It should alarm us in the church to the point of repenting in sackcloth and ashes, because what I just described to you is the EXACT OPPOSITE of the Proverbs 31 woman, who does real work with her real hands, planting real crops in real fields and plying her real wares in real markets in order to bless and enrich her real husband and children. 

Don’t take my word for it.  Stop right now and read Proverbs 31:10-31.  Seriously.  Read it.

Women of the Lord, you claim the Name of a Savior who said people would given an account on the day of judgment for every idle word spoken (Matt 12:36).  Today the implications of Jesus’ words must obviously include people also giving account for every frivilous moment spent clicking our lives away in virtual world.

The psychologist’s recommendations on GMA included tracking the actual amount of time you spend on-line, as well only having one computer in the home and placing it in the family room.  But friends, bad habits cannot simply be ditched, they must be replaced.  This is why Paul teaches Christians to “put off” sinful practices and “put on” godly ones (Eph 4; Col 3). 

May I humbly suggest some productive alternatives to Farmville?

  1. Go plant an actual garden that will benefit your family and neighbors.
  2. Given that FB and Farmville supposedly “connect” us, why not involve your neighbors and children in the gardening process?  Face-to-face, shoulder-to-shoulder, weeding the beans and picking the corn.  If we did more of this, we may actually have opportunities to truly get to know another person, or to speak to others of the things of God.
  3. Read your Bible.
  4. Teach the Bible to your children.
  5. Sing some old hymns with your family.  Don’t know many?  Go buy a hymnal and get busy!
  6. Read a biography of an old saint of God and then teach your children about how God used that person.
  7. Spend your web-surfing time for God’s glory.  Log off Farmville and log onto www.persecution.com or www.4truth.net.  With so many God-honoring options on the internet, why waste time?
  8. Pray.

O God, rescue our wives and mothers from a life of folly and frivolity.  Give them strength to log off for Your glory and the good of their homes.  Transform them from Farmville addicts to Word addicts.  In Jesus’ Name, amen.             

Read more about the Farmville analysis here:http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/Parenting/facebook-met-farming-80-million-play-farmville/story?id=10608972&page=1

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Signs of Backsliding

A friend posted this to his FB page recently, and I thought it was well worth sharing.  Adapted from the Puritan Richard Owen Roberts, here are “20 Signs You May Be Backsliding.”

  1. Prayer ceases to be a vital part of your life.
  2. The quest for biblical truth ceases.
  3. Biblical knowledge is not applied inwardly.
  4. Thoughts are predominantly earthly and not heavenward.
  5. The church service loses its delight.
  6. Spiritual discussions are a source of embarrassment.
  7. More time is devoted to recreation and entertainment than the Word and prayer.
  8. Sins can be committed without any violation of the conscience.
  9. Aspirations for Christ-like holiness cease to dominate your life and thinking.
  10. Your mind is focused on the acquisition of money and goods.
  11. Religious songs can be mouthed without engaging the heart.
  12. When hearing the Lord’s Name taken in vain, you are not moved to indignation.
  13. Watching degrading movies becomes entertaining and acceptable.
  14. Breaches of peace in the church are of no concern.
  15. The slightest excuse keeps you from your spiritual duties.
  16. The lack of spiritual power is met with contentment.
  17. Personal sins are pardoned by a belief that the Lord understands.
  18. An adjustment to the world is made with ease.
  19. Nothing is done to relieve the misery and suffering which exists around you.
  20. There is no concern for the lost or sharing the gospel.

How are you doing, dear Christian?  May others be able to say of us:

“But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation” (Heb 6:9).

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